Via the New York Times, David Zweig has a harrowing observation on the first generation of children raised under constant digital surveillance:
“I want to look at pictures on daddy’s phone!” I can’t recall when this entreaty started. I only know it has been repeated like a mantra nearly every day by my 3-year-old daughter for as long as I remember her being able to speak in sentences.
On the surface a child’s preoccupation with personal photos seems quite benign, or even beneficial. And yet I fear her photo obsession may hasten her self-consciousness to a degree that’s no longer constructive.
Our children’s lives are being documented to a degree never done before. I often have over 100 new pictures per month added to iPhoto on my computer. Like adults, kids often act differently when they know the camera is on. There’s a reason posed shots almost always seem so awkward and artificial compared with candid ones. The very act of documentation, ironically, affects the moment it is trying to document.
The more we film, the more time our kids are, to one degree or another, knowingly acting a scene for the camera rather than just being present. The other day, in a sweet moment, my daughter put her arm around her 1-year-old brother. Before my wife and I could finish our “aww”s, my daughter said, “Take a picture!” A 3-year-old shouldn’t know which of her actions are worthy of being documented; she should simply be in the moment.